Gaming Disorder – Are Video Games Playing You?

Hey guys, it’s Joerel again and today I’m going to be talking – more like arguing actually – about the whole “gaming disorder” which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially recognised as a disorder around June of this year. This is going to be a doozy. In any case, let’s go for it.

So, you might be wondering, why did the World Health Organisation consider this as a disorder? Well, on their website, they see gaming disorder as (and I quote straight off the page) “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”[1] Okay, that does not sound so bad, does it? I personally believe that whatever the addiction is, whether it be something as hardcore as drugs and alcoholism or smoking, it should be taken seriously and should be treated as much as possible to return them back into a generally better state than they were before. Gaming can be addictive, and while gaming is quite relaxing and entertaining, too much of anything can kill. Everything should be kept at a reasonable limit (depending on what it is of course – drugs do not count for this), but not limiting the enjoyment one gets from such said pleasure. I know I like to play games on my laptop and on my Nintendo DS, but I know when I had too much. Overall, well played for keeping up with technology.

But, my argument is what they say next: “For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”[1] That seems a bit too vague, kind of like YouTube’s ad revenue policies. To see someone being engulfed in gaming is within perspective. One doctor or psychologist might be able to see one person as a gaming addict while another might not see the same person as addicted to gaming. It is relatively new, because of the recent surge of gaming and so no-one can truly understand who a gaming addict is and who is not. While it may be seen in the near future, it is currently not possible and if it is possible, many may cause misdiagnosis. Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which proposed the new diagnosis to WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly states: “And let me emphasize that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that.”[2] Like I said previously, that is completely subjective. Also, it irritates me to not know what their training is. What is it? Like, would it not be obvious if someone has a gaming disorder? How would it work? Though there is some opposition from other professionals. For example, Dr. Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London, said: “it is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.” Though he argues that “it could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.”[3] highlighting the main issue when classifying this as an International classification of disease (ICD).

Also, you must consider some other factors. For example, has anyone is the WHO ever considered E-Sports at all when it came to this conclusion? E-Sports is professional gaming and there are stories out there which counter the point of having gaming disorder as a thing. Take example SKT Faker. SKT Faker, a professional League of Legends player, when he was only a teenager, he decided to drop out of high school to continue his love of gaming. He was scouted to be a part of SKT Telecom K and he played ever since for the organisation.[4] Guess what happened to him? He became known as one of the best players in League of Legends (LoL) as well as winning consecutive world titles in the game. The prize money is absurd when it comes to E-Sports. In 2016, the prize pool was $5,070,000 and last year’s being $4,946,969.[8] Faker, his team, and his organisation got both of those prize pool money because they won both years. E-Sports is not a joke. He threw away his education to win even more money than he would have if he continued his education – just by playing games that he was amazing at! While it is not implying people should leave school for a pursuit of professional gaming, if people see potential then they should go for it otherwise it would have been a wasted opportunity. Another example would be TSM Reginald, the owner of Team SoloMid. He placed his faith in LoL and focused on gaming rather than school or university and see him now.[7] Reginald owns one of the most successful franchises in E-Sports. Currently, TSM has investors such as Stephen Curry supporting his team.[9] Even actual athletes are recognising the potential in E-sports because it is as competitive as actual sports. 100 Thieves, a gaming organisation, has a partnership with the unstoppable NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers[6] and the Golden Guardians, another E-sports team, is supported by the Golden States Warriors.[5]

In my opinion, I think that gaming disorder as a classification should be reconsidered or at least put on hold for now. You must think of other factors, ones you don’t even know or think about, and while I commend WHO for trying to adapt to the new technological advances, I believe that they need further research. There are plenty of uprising professional gamers on the rise and the next thing we need is someone saying another person cannot pursue their career because of ‘gaming disorder’. While it is a good thing to consider, I believe personally, more research and proper training (in years, not months or days) should be done to properly assess this issue before they can officially press it as a disorder.





[4] [The Story of SKT Faker]



[7] [The Story of TSM Reginald]



By Joerel Gestopa

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